Symptoms Related to Heartworm Disease in Cats


Cats can be affected with heartworm disease, but it is different from that of heartworm condition in dogs. Unlike dogs, cats are not hosts of heartworms and these parasites do not thrive or live long in their body. The worms mature slowly and reproduce, but may not live to reach adult stage in cats. The affected cat may have only one to three grown worms in the body, but it can lead to respiratory problems.

heartworm-symptoms-in-cats | Credit: Alvaro

Heartworm disease occurs when mosquitos carrying the larvae transmit them to the cats, with their bite. This infection can go undetected in most cases and sometimes it can be hard to diagnose too. The vet may need to take blood test along with chest x-ray and symptoms into consideration to diagnose heartworm disease. Also, ultrasound imaging of the heart may be necessary to confirm the presence of heartworms.

Heartworm Symptoms in Cats

  • Vomiting – Your cat may begin to vomit intermittently and sometimes there may be blood in it.
  • Coughing – Cat may have dry cough which may be accompanied by gagging. This is sometimes confused with asthma or other condition.
  • Inactivity – Your cat tends to become less active and lethargic.
  • Fluid begins to build-up in lungs and abdomen.
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Labored breathing
  • Blindnesss
  • Seizures
  • Sudden collapse or death

Sometimes you may not notice any symptoms of infection at all. The cat seems all active and healthy, but may die all of a sudden.

In some cases, the cat rids itself from these parasitic worms without exhibiting any symptoms or issues. Sadly, there is no cure for treating heartworm condition in cats, like that of dogs. Surgery is considered too risky for removing the worms. In most cases, when this disease is diagnosed, symptoms are controlled with the help of medications.


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